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Internet Awards 2001: Bucks and bytes struggle for glory

The past 12 months have been tough for online wholesale finance. Banks are ditching their e-commerce divisions, having finally realized that keeping them separate from the business lines is ridiculous. Some multibank sites have closed. But online analytics have come into their own, transparency is improving and banks generally have a better idea of what the internet can and cannot do. Even so the web is still not fulfilling its potential. Despite all the talk about the net making the markets more open, politics and secrecy are damaging web-based trading. Banks know that they have not found the perfect way to trade online but some of their individual products excel.

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"I don't know what to say," said one UK fund manager when we rang him to ask what he thought about a particular bank's equity trading offering. "I'm not a great fan of it. The performance is atrocious."

This was not the response we had expected. As part of our assessment of the 160 or so sites that we were shown for the 2001 internet awards, asked the banks to provide names and numbers of people who used them, to get some user feedback. The bank that recommended this fund manager considers itself unrivalled in its ability to gauge client satisfaction.

Some of the site users that the banks gave us were particularly enthusiastic, but then most of them turned out to be former employees of the firms that had recommended them. Nice try.

This reveals a serious point: banks still have some way to go before they can say they know what clients want, especially in trading.

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